Court Orders police to turn over dash cam videos
You would *think* that police dash cam videos would be valuable evidence that police would want to make available to defense attorneys to validate claims made by police about what actually happened during a police stop. But that would only be true if police were confident the videos would actually confirm what they’re saying. So, when Public Disclosure Act requests were filed requesting release of these videos, police withheld them on a variety of, frankly, ludicrous grounds. The case went all the way to the Washington Supreme Court, which ordered police to turn them over and let the chips fall where they may. Not surprisingly, a lot of the chips are not falling in the direction police had hoped. You can read about the Court’s ruling here.
This strange episode follows a history of other bizarre reports out of Seattle PD regarding their video footage. In 2012, after requests for video footage the Seattle PD reported that they “lost” over 100,000 videos. Hey, we just “lost it”, sorry. Amazingly, they didn’t lose any of the videos that prosecutors presented in court to prosecute and convict defendants at trial during that entire period of time, just the ones sought in the requests that led to this “discovery”. You can read about that episode here. After you catch your breath, think about the implications of a government that is watching every move we make and criminally prosecuting us but turning over only those videos that they choose to.
Ok, conspiracy theories aside, let’s face it. We are all under constant surveillance by someone, somewhere. If it’s not police, it’s the business establishments in the area, the ATM across the street, the apartment complex next door, or just bystanders using their cell phones to capture anything that’s going on in the area. It’s hard to imagine any public event that has not been captured somewhere on video. And given the great reliance we place on a record, particularly in “he-said, she-said” disputes, these video accounts are just going to become more and more valuable over time. It’s frankly very distressing that police have to be taken all the way to the Supreme Court to be ordered to turn over these public records that they keep on us. Who exactly do they think they are working for?